Championship Weekend Preview: Fatigue lifeline for dogfight duo

 

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The Independent Football

Bristol City found their shooting boots with a brilliant win over Leicester at Ashton Gate in midweek and we fancy them to follow up with another prize scalp at chunky odds when Cardiff make the short trip over the Severn Bridge on Saturday.

After failing to find the net in five of the previous eight matches, the Robins came from behind to put three past the in-form Foxes and they present an enticing proposition at 23/10 if they show more of the same spirit because the visitors might still be vulnerable on the back of their Carling Cup final heartbreak.

The Bluebirds have shown no obvious signs of the mental fatigue you would come to associate with a team in the aftermath of such a grand-scale disappointment but they have been thrust into a couple of big promotion six-pointers and now the delayed effects of their big day at Wembley might hit home in a more thankless fixture against feisty underdog opposition.

The fact Cardiff yielded just a solitary point against West Ham and Brighton will hardly help matters for Malky Mackay. A late Sam Vokes equaliser at the Amex Stadium in midweek denied them the opportunity to return to the top six and the table could take on more of a demoralising complexion before this televised encounter gets underway.

Such is the dog-eat-dog nature of life at the foot of the table, the bottom four have all been boosted by the news that Portsmouth have picked up a ten-point penalty for going into administration and they've all posted wins in the past fortnight that few would have anticipated prior to Hampshire club's bombshell.

Therefore, the task facing the Bluebirds is undoubtedly tougher and the same applies to Birmingham who must travel to Coventry at a time when the physical demands of an extraordinary season are starting to take their toll.

Chris Hughton's men surrendered a two-goal lead at home to Derby last weekend, on the back of defeat at home to Nottingham Forest, while they were unhinged in the second half against Chelsea in midweek, so their ability to keep it together for 90 minutes is diminishing and the Sky Blues probably couldn't have hand-picked a better time to come up against their Midlands rivals.

Andy Thorn's men were rather unfortunate to lose the reverse fixture by a solitary goal at St Andrew's but that's essentially been the story of their season. Thorn is a canny tactician, which hasn't always been recognised amid the many defeats that Coventry have suffered, but punters should pay due respect to the fact that 14 of their 20 league defeats have been by the odd goal.

In spite of his limitations in terms of personnel and resources, Thorn isn't being beaten all ends-up too often and this might be one occasion when his players can finish up on the right side of those fine margins. At 11/4 on home soil, we're willing to take a chance to find out.

Recommended bets:

1pt Coventry to beat Birmingham at 29/10 (Bet Victor)

1pt Bristol City to beat Cardiff at 23/10 (Boylesports)

For more betting news and views, please visit Bestofthebets.com. You can also follow Mike Holden on Twitter: @Miguel_BOTB

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